It’s Going to Literally Stink to Live Near White Rock Lake For a While

A contractor drilled into a sewage pipe, releasing 1 million gallons of untreated sewage into White Rock Creek, which stretches from Collin County to East Dallas’ White Rock Lake. (Photo: Michael Lensi via Wikipedia)

Homes around White Rock Lake often fetch a pretty high price. Dubbed Dallas’ crown jewel, White Rock Lake is encircled by recreational trails, parks, the Dallas Arboretum, and some of the most well-known luxury estates in the city. Heck, even H.L. Hunt built his version of Mount Vernon on White Rock Lake. But living in posh digs on this urban oasis is about to get odorous.

H.L. Hunt built his version of Mount Vernon on Dallas’ White Rock Lake.

Thanks to a less-than-observant crew drilling soil samples at a car dealership near Preston Road and the President George Bush Turnpike, approximately 1 million gallons of untreated sewage was released into White Rock Creek. The creek, which runs from Collin County to White Rock Lake, is already showing signs of initial fish kill. Untreated sewage can contain high proportions of human effluent, pathogens, and noxious chemicals, including nitrogenous waste that can settle into the creek bed and the silt at the bottom of White Rock Lake. Algae and anaerobic bacteria feed on this waste, which can sometimes cause massive fish kills as the algae and bacteria deoxygenate the water. 

The North Texas Municipal Water District says that the leak began on Tuesday. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are monitoring water quality and the affects of the spill. There’s still no word on mitigation, which can often be expensive and time consuming. Here’s what NTMWD told NBC 5:

“The district and the entities are looking at how far did that wastewater travel into the creek and then what type of cleanup and remediation needs to be done,” said Denise Hickey, with the NTMWD. “We don’t have a timeline of how long it will take for that flow to actually reach White Rock Lake.”


Also, it stinks. Right now, City of Dallas officials are closing the lake to water recreation, including the popular dog launch at the White Rock Lake dog park. If you have guests in town ahead of the Fourth of July, expect to answer the question of “What’s that smell?” with the answer of “Plano’s poop.”

Here’s hoping that the air and water clears up and there are no long-term effects from the spill.

3 Comment

  • I hope a severe penalty by a hefty fine is levied on the soil sample crew. Perhaps the city should sue the company to pay for clean up. This is unacceptable. The damage to the environment is huge.

    • mm

      Agree. I hope they have insurance. But even more, how could this happen so easily? There is a lot of building going on but my question is, why were those pipes so easily damaged and where did they lead? Any engineers out there?

    • mm

      We’ll find out if a fine of illegal discharge or drilling without a survey will be enough, but I have a feeling that municipalities are going to be footing the remediation bill for this.